Frederick Schiller Faust (1892-1944) wrote many western books throughout his prolific career. I recently read a few of them that he penned under the more familiar name Max Brand.
In his book Alcatraz, Brand writes of a disgruntled ranch foreman named Lew Hervey who wanted to be in charge. (All pages cited will be from the iBooks edition.) “Hervey gathered the reins of the ranch affairs more and more into his own hands and had grown to an almost independent power when [the owner's daughter] came home from school.” (p. 8) She wisely sought advice from people to assist her in the running of the ranch, assuming that “a little help from Hervey plus her indomitable energy might have made her attempt a success.” (p. 9)
It is at this juncture that Brand make the following observation.
“Hervey, however, was by no means willing to help. In fact, he was profoundly disgruntled. He had found himself, beyond all expectation, in a position almost as absolute and dignified as that of a real owner with not the slightest interference from Jordan [the ranch's owner], when on a sudden the arrival of this pretty little dark-eyed girl submerged him again in his old role of the hired man. He took what [the owner's daughter] considered a sneaking revenge. He entered at once upon a career of the most perfect subordination. No fault could be found with his work. He executed every commission with scrupulous care. But when his advice was asked he became a sphinx. “Some folks say one way and some another. Speaking personal, I dunno, Miss Jordan. You just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.”
This attitude irritated her so that she was several times on the verge of discharging him, but how could she turn out so old an employee and one so painstaking in the duties assigned to him? Many a day she prayed for ‘a new foreman or night,’ but Hervey kept his job, and in spite of her best efforts, affairs went from from bad to worse and the more desperately she struggled the more hopelessly she was lost.” (p. 9)
Hervey plays well the role of the passive rebel. Having talked with numerous pastors over the years, I have heard a variety of stories concerning deacons and assistant pastors who were much like Lew Hervey. When assigned a responsibility, they often let it go undone, claiming they didn’t have time to complete the task. When asked for advice, they give non-committal answers. When a vote is taken, they often refrain from casting a vote so they can later claim, “I didn’t agree to that.” Passive rebels, like Lew Hervey. Outwardly submissive, but inwardly rebellious to the authority they aspire for themselves. Spiritual abusers who have damaged countless pastors and congregations over the years. Abusers who cause harm, while giving the impression they are genuinely looking out for the good of the congregation.
In the end, Hervey loses. In the end, God will set all things right for His glory.